Analysis: UN chides Australia for spanking law

(QMI Agency File Illustration)

(QMI Agency File Illustration)

Simon Kent, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

TORONTO - Quick question.

Have you ever spanked a child?

We’re not talking an old-fashioned thrashing behind the woodshed, much less a boxing of the ears.

Just an open-palmed slap in a moment of parent-administered discipline as opposed to switching, paddling, belting, caning or whipping.

Well, if you answered yes, then I hope you’re seated comfortably as you read this because you might have reason to fall off your chair.

The United Nations disapproves and is pretty sure it knows better than you how to raise a child.

Last week, the global body took Australia to task for letting parents slap their children. It followed other official UN warnings to the land Down Under in 1997, 2005 and 2011.

A UN Committee on the Rights of the Child report told Australia to abolish the right of parents to use reasonable chastisement to discipline children.

The committee would also like teachers and child-care workers to report cases of parents spanking.

That UN intervention drew a swift rebuttal from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who’s leader of Australia’s governing coalition of conservative parties.

“All parents know that occasionally the best thing we can give is a smack, but it should never be something that hurts them,” Abbott told local television.

“I was probably one of those guilty parents who did occasionally chastise the children, a very gentle smack I’ve got to say. I think that we’ve got to treat our kids well, but I don’t think we ought to say there’s no place ever for smacks.”

Spanking children is illegal in 34 countries, including New Zealand, Germany and Spain, but not Canada.